CHICAGO (AP) — The Cleveland Indians dropped three of four in Chicago — and still gained a bit Thursday.
Jose Abreu continued his second-half surge with a home run and single and Carlos Sanchez drove in the winning run in the ninth inning in the White Sox’s 2-1 victory.
The first-place Indians lowered their magic number to 11 in the AL Central, as the second-place Detroit Tigers also lost their game. The teams will square off in Cleveland this weekend.
After Omar Narvaez led off the ninth with a single off reliever Bryan Shaw (2-5), pinch-runner Leury Garcia stole second while Avisail Garcia struck out. Sanchez followed with a bloop single to right-center.
It was a case of missed opportunities for Cleveland, which was hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position.
In the ninth, while the shadows around home plate made it more difficult to hit, pinch-hitter Francisco Lindor and Coco Crisp struck out to strand the lead run at third.
“You could see it coming,” manager Terry Francona said. “You’re hoping you get a lead before that. We had a good chance. … It’s hard enough to hit without being able to only see half the ball.”
Chicago starter James Shields labored through a 33-pitch third but avoided major damage. The Indians scored only on Jose Ramirez’s sacrifice fly despite a single, three walks and two wild pitches.
Reliever David Robertson (5-3) pitched a scoreless inning to earn the victory.
The White Sox concluded a 6-4 homestead against three playoff hopefuls.
Prior to the game, Abreu met with a young cancer patient and said he would try to hit a home run for the boy. He lived up to the promise on his second at-bat, a blast over the left-field fence that tied the score.
“You feel for the people,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It was very emotional for me, too, because if I couldn’t hit the homer, I would feel bad because I couldn’t accomplish what I promised to him. This is something I feel proud of, because these are the moments that you make people feel happy.”
In his most effective start since late July, Shields gave up one run on three hits and three walks in six innings but remained winless in his last nine starts. He was 0-5 with a 10.75 earned-run average in his previous eight appearances.
After a rocky third, Shields mowed down nine consecutive batters before Carlos Santana reached on an infield hit in the sixth.
Cleveland counterpart Mike Clevinger retired seven batters in a row before Abreu took him deep in the fourth. That was the lone run off Clevinger, who allowed three hits and one walk in four innings.
Clevinger encountered trouble in the first, but retired Narvaez on a pop out with the bases loaded.
“With Clev, his pitch counts — even on the 1,2,3 innings — are 14, 15, he has deep counts,” Francona said. “So we got him up to 80, which is increasing each time.
“I thought he threw the ball really well. He’s building back after being in the bullpen.”
Lindor remained 22 hits short of 200 this season. Since 1996, Michael Brantley (2013) is the only Indians player to achieve the feat.
Garcia has a .341 batting average in his last 11 games and five home runs and 16 RBI in his last 28. The hot streak coincided with his move from designated hitter to right field.
“His swings are better,” Ventura said. “Whether it was playing the outfield or not, there could be a correlation to that. But I think it’s more (about) his mechanics and just the timing that he has right now.”
Indians: C Yan Gomes could be activated and start on Friday pending the test results on his right wrist. He was struck by a pitch Wednesday in a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron. He has been on the disabled list since July 18 because of a dislocated right shoulder. … OF Lonnie Chisenhall (abdominal discomfort) was a late scratch. Crisp replaced him.
White Sox: INF/DH Justin Morneau (neck stiffness) sat out a third consecutive game as a precautionary measure.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (16-9, 3.05) will bid for his third win in as many starts against the Tigers this season on Friday. Rookie RHP Michael Fulmer (10-6, 2.76) is scheduled to start for the visitors.
White Sox: LHP Chris Sale (15-8, 3.03) will take the ball in the opener of a weekend series in Kansas City on Friday night. The Royals will counter with RHP Ian Kennedy (11-9, 3.62).